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As a physical therapist I see many different people with many different problems every day. The Achilles tendon was always an interesting pathology to me Because it was one that I could never really relate to … how could a small spot that really limit people the way they were telling me ?? “I can not run anymore.” “I can barely walk.” “I do not go up and down stairs Because it hurts too bad.” Try as I might, I just could not relate! Then the worst thing in the world happened. I got a jumprope. What a great way to get a little cardio and build some strength in the legs and calves! A great alternative to running, I started jumping some rope as a home-workout warmup. 3-4 days a week for about 20 minutes (as a physical therapist it KILLS me to type that! To go from nothing to four days a week at 20 minutes it’s a miracle the sea areas of my body did not fall apart!). Would not you know – my Achilles flared up something fierce and COMPLETELY sidelined me! Luckily I had the knowledge and training to know what to do about it and am feeling 90% better today.
Well as part of our popular “Feel Better Now” series here on Tone and Tighten I wanted to talk all about Achilles tendinitis today – what it is, why you get it, and (most importantly) what you can do to Feel Better Now! !! Keep reading for more info …
What Is It? Your Achilles tendon is the fibrous tendon that connects the bottom of your calf to the back of your foot. When our calf muscles contract, it pulls through our tendon to point our toes down towards the ground. We put stress on this tendon while running, jumping, walking, and pretty much doing anything active. It’s pretty much vital to normal human movement and (most of the time) does it’s job flawlessly. But what happens when it starts acting up?
Why You Get It: In most cases, Achilles tendinitis develops as an overuse injury. Too much of an activity without adequate rest, recovery, or strength training can all be causes of Achilles tendinitis. The two most common cases that I see are 1) runners who are training for an upcoming race or 2) sedentary individuals trying to become more active. In both cases the most common mode of injury is some type of dramatic increase in activity. Take me for example – to go from zero jump roping ever to 15-20 minutes 3-4 days a week is a perfect example of what NOT to do! People go from running 3 miles to 6 miles during their marathon training. People go from zero walking to walking four blocks everyday. Even starting to take the stairs everyday instead of the elevator at work. Now granted I do see the occasional traumatic injury – “I pulled it playing basketball” – but in my experience these are the exceptions. If you’ve got pain in your Achilles, most likely it’s from some sort of recent activity modification (including new shoes!).
One more precipitating factor to mention is previous injury. The heel I developed this pain in is also one that I sprained playing soccer about 10 years ago. I know my range of motion is limited in this heel, and it does not surprise me that it’s the one that developed the pain. With this range of motion limitation a little more stress was constantly being put on that tendon than the other. Combine that with my activity increase and WAMM – that sucker really started to hurt !!
Alright – we know what it is; We know why we might develop it; Most importantly … What he heck are we gonna do about it ?!
Click here to be taken to part 2 of this post including the best treatment for Achilles tendinitis and your free home exercise sheet !!
Looking for more great advice from our “Feel Better Now” series? Here are some of my favorites:
Disclaimer: The information presented in the “Feel Better Now” series is designed to be used for informational purposes only. The diagnoses and treatment plans outlined are extremely generalized and may or may not be the recommended interventions for your specific problem. If you are experiencing pain, you are encouraged to consult a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan that will be in your best interest individual. Tone and Tighten claims exemption from accident, injury, or perpetuation of any injury incurred while performing exercises found on this website. The user assumes all risk … and reward !!
Make it happen,
By Jared Beckstrand